Wellness takes flight with airline nutrition, technology

No legroom, smaller seats, bad food…we’ve all heard the complaints, but the airlines are now working to create a healthier in-flight experience, adding things like organic food, in-flight exercise videos, even brain wave monitors to help with jet lag.

“I think we’re seeing more concern from the airlines about passengers health because the planes are becoming less comfortable,” says Travel Guru George Hobica. He says the airlines are looking to make up for less space with improvements in other areas like the food they offer.

More nutritious options are now available on many airlines, though some are doing it better than others, according to Dr. Charles Platkin, who releases an annual survey on airline foods. He says Delta leads the pack. Platkin says, “They’re becoming more transparent about what they’re serving, meaning they’re telling whether it’s GMO or not, whether it’s vegan or not, and they’re offering more healthier options.”

Some, like Turkish Airlines, offer special teas that claim to reduce the effects of stress, indigestion and sleep-loss.

Dr. Platkin says there’s evidence food can dictate mood, and that’s on the airlines’ radars.

“I think that the airlines are realizing that this is not just a favor to the passenger, that the passengers that eat better, meaning eat healthier, tend to be happier,” Dr. Platkin says.

Many also now offer more than movies on the screen at your seat. “What we see on a lot of airlines is the in-flight entertainment system showing wellness videos,” Hobica explains. And meditation apps on screen, too.

Lufthansa is testing sleeping masks that monitor brain waves to wake you at the best times to avoid jet lag. There are also space age seat cushions that give you more knee and legroom, and ergonomic headrests. Emirates offers special interactive amenity kits including activities and health tips for a more relaxing travel experience. There’s even a mattress company paired up with American Airlines to offer products for better shuteye on long-haul flights.

Still, Hobica points out some perks are only for certain passengers, “It’s really in first class and business class that we’re seeing better pillows and better blankets.”

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